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Look how we’ve grown!

It’s no secret that winter isn’t my favorite season. The endless frigid temperatures, bleak landscape, frozen water troughs, dirty snow, and short days leave me dreaming of all the other seasons I love better. Truly, one of the blessings of a winter wedding has been looking forward to our anniversary every year. Its a reason to celebrate and as our family has grown, we get to celebrate together. This year, we’re all the way to number eleven!

Baby-faced and newly wed.

Last year, Jack and I escaped to the Bahamas for our ten year anniversary without the kids. It was so great to go from cold and snowy to sunshine and warm beaches. However, if we could have afforded to take the kids with us, I would have strapped them in the airplane in a heartbeat.

Thank you, GPS for taking us through the scenic, hilly route when the roads were horrible.

This year, Jack decided to surprise everyone with a different kind of tropical retreat. In the middle of a icy snowstorm that resulted in a snow day for the kids, we hopped in the car, drove very carefully (I love you, 4-wheel drive and anti-lock brakes!) a couple of hours south.

Thank goodness we were going slow to begin with. Deer galore!

Nestled in a valley between forested hills are the historic towns of West Baden and French Lick (Jack asked if that’s some sort of French kiss, hahaha). Originally, it was a popular getaway known for its mineral springs. Today, it’s still a very touristy area that has some really great history and was very charming, even while draped with snow.


There, he’d made reservations at a family-friendly hotel that had a big indoor water park. If we ever want to make the children happy, we simply have to mention “hotel” and “swimming” and their month is made.

Claire testing out our bed’s buoyancy and Kate peaking out from over the top of the bunk beds.
We arrived early enough to get to our room, share some pizza, then go swimming for a couple of hours. When we were all tired, we went back to the room and got everyone into their pajamas. Then, Jack and I managed to escape for a five minute and twenty-two-second date when we walked down the hallway to get super sugary slushies and play one game with a token we found on the floor.
We ended up letting the kids finish the cough syrup-y drink for us.

 And, if there was ever a gift that makes me go ga-ga, it’s not having to cook or clean up once in a while. The breakfast buffet was a hit because everyone got to eat whatever they wanted and I didn’t have to hear any complaints!


We wasted no time changing into our cold, damp swimming suits and running over to the water park the minute it opened.

So much to see and do!

The awesome thing about the hotel was it was obviously geared towards families. I’d never seen so many children at a hotel in my life. Because of that, there was something for everyone to do.

Sliding down the shipwrecked rowboat.

Henry spent countless hours going down the same yellow slide, running to the top, patiently waiting his turn, and coming back down. He made a few friends there by inadvertently joining a train of children who all came down the slide at the same time. No one can resist Henry’s smile and contagious laugh.


The girls alternated going down the bigger slides with Jack and me. Their favorite by far was one they dubbed “the toilet bowl.” After being “flushed” down the first slide, they’d spin around the bowl a couple of times before descending down the second slide.

It’s pretty impressive watching how much speed they’d get going around and around.

When they were ready to take a break, we all headed to the deeper pool where we bobbed in the water and took turns trying to cross the wobbly water bridge. Claire (as no surprise to anyone) made it across first.

Not to be outdone by her little sister, Evelyn quickly followed successfully.

Kate tried her own tactic and though she was able to make it to the first pad, even standing for a few seconds, she couldn’t make it to the second without the help of the overhead net. With her balance, she should really consider taking up surfing.


Jack tried his own Ninja Warrior tactic but all he managed to accomplish was elicit some laughs from the kids.

Better luck next time, Jack.

When we’d worn ourselves out and it was time to leave, we toured the area and enjoyed the scenery. We spotted more deer and imagined that the place is probably breathtaking in the spring, summer, and fall.

I think we counted six deer hanging out in that spot.

Naturally, we worked up quite an appetite with all the swimming and in keeping with our tropical-themed anniversary, we went to a Hawaiian restaurant and enjoyed some sushi, shark, and barbecued chicken.

Jack loves his sushi! Me? Not so much.
 It was Kate’s first try, and she enjoyed the raw fish, rice, and sea weed…
Kate also likes hot sauce and Greek olives…the girl will try anything.

 …but Evelyn took one nibble and wasn’t fooled. Sushi isn’t as good as everyone claims.

On our way out, we decided to stop by the historic West Bayden hotel. It was the first thing we saw coming into town and very much looks like a grand palace on the outside. Inside was worth the tour! The entire hotel had been renovated back to its original beauty and it was all mosaic tile floors, enormous pillars, marble sculptures, and breathtaking artwork. Maybe we’ll stay there next time we visit…
It was HUGE inside.
When we couldn’t take any more fun and excitement, we packed up and headed home.
All worn out from so much fun!

Though it is so much fun celebrating our anniversary and the official start of our family, I
still treasure the day to day thrill it is to live with Jack.

Jack is one of the few people who can genuinely smile while crammed in a crawlspace.

He can make chores exciting, challenges manageable and can make anyone smile, finding teaching moments in the most mundane tasks. Nothing is insurmountable with him and Heavenly Father on my side. Because of them, every day is a new and uncharted adventure.


I don’t know what will come next in the coming days…years…decades that our family will go through together but I am extremely pleased to be with Jack through it all.

How little we knew about what joy lay before us!
Happy Anniversary to Jack and me!

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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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